The Careful Crafting of History and the Future
In October of 2009 I sat down across from the former White House Counter-terror “tsar” Richard Clarke, and had a conversation that lasted about an hour. I was working on a documentary film with my colleague Ray, that never ended up getting made. In the end, we used the audio from that interview in our first long form podcast, “Who is Rich Blee.” We also released a ten minute video edit of the interview on youtube, and used the content of the discussion as the launching point for our 2017 book, “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark.”
This conversation may go down as one of the best “gets” of my career, and to this day it kind of flummoxes me that it isn’t a more widely known interview. Over that hour, Clarke told us essentially that he had reason to believe he had been intentionally kept out of the loop regarding two al-Qaeda operators coming to, and then staying in the United States at the turn of the millennium. These men then went on to be 9-11 hijackers. The crux of his argument was that every single day, Clarke’s computer would get upwards of fifty CIA reports, and that since internally at the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, there were several reports about these two al-Qaeda operators, that these should automatically have made their way across his screen. But they didn’t. Clarke felt a high level decision would have to have been made to break the chain of communication to remove him, and that this high level decision likely would have to have come from the then CIA Director, George Tenet.
Clarke went on to explain to us that beyond the automatic updates, he spoke with Tenet regularly in that time period. Tenet would call him up first thing in the morning to discuss the minutiae contained within raw CIA reporting. And then, one week before 9-11, Tenet and Clarke even sat together in a cabinet level counter-terror meeting, and by this time the CIA had alerted the FBI to the presence of these al-Qaeda operators within the US and a search was underway for them, yet Tenet never mentioned it in that meeting.
It didn’t take long for conspiracy theories regarding the 9-11 attacks to fill the poorly designed blogs of the early internet. In the days following any major catastrophe, there is a flurry of reporting that is flawed for one reason or another, and much of this reporting becomes the foundation for conspiracies that people will cling to for decades to come. With the 9-11 “truther” movement and the rise of figures like Alex Jones, came a parallel crusade of “reasonable” people and “debunkers,” who would sniff out any statement that ran contradictory to the official narrative released by the Federal Government and tear it limb from limb like a pack of hungry wolfhounds.
I always have found myself in this weird middle space. I consider my bar of evidence to be fairly high. As much as I might find certain facts or claims to be interesting or curious, unless I really run them down and find that they are true (and this usually means actually talking to the people involved, finding relevant official documents, etc.) I do not adopt a “theory,” as my personal belief on an issue. However, I am open to reading about or talking about or exploring almost anything. Richard Clarke, a cabinet level White House employee under two presidents (well, W lowered the rank of Clarke’s position) told us he thought it was very likely that the CIA was running a secret and illegal operation to try to “flip” or at least get reporting from the al-Qaeda members who had come into the US, and that this operation was approved by the CIA director himself. Is this a whacky conspiracy theory that should be immediately denounced, spat upon, and ignored? Or is Clarke a reliable, credible insider, blowing the whistle on an agency whose whole modus operandi is based upon deception?
And why the hell do I keep talking about 9-11 and the “War on Terror” in these pieces about Covid19? Because to me, it’s all the same. The state has it’s methodologies, and we can see the patterns in their activities when it comes to crises and how people in places of power try to game them for both institutional and personal benefit. Maybe it’s too on the nose to come out and say it, but here I go all the same: People need to learn to be more skeptical of so-called “officials” and “experts,” and they need to learn how to dissect what they hear and see in the media. Simultaneously, they need to not get duped by grifters selling preposterous “conspiracy theories” based on the thinnest of evidence.
In this vein, 9-11 and Covid19 share some similarities. Many 9-11 truth advocates believe that the government at some level, wanted 9-11 to happen, and so they orchestrated the attacks. Some people believe the US government remote controlled the airliners that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon, they believe nano-explosives brought down the Trade towers, etc. (Can I say for certain these things didn’t happen? No, I can’t. Nor can I demonstrate that they did, and since I do not claim things I cannot reasonably prove, I lean to the side that says these ideas are false.) Everything I have written or released in this arena is way less sexy, yet it is all based upon government documents and interviews with insiders from the various agencies involved (FBI, CIA, NSA, DOD, etc). Over the course of my work, I have found myself somewhere in between the most ardent conspiracy theorist, and the most devout acolyte of the “official story.”
And honestly, in life, I find that that is usually the place where the truth is to be found. Official narratives exist to steer the public in the desired direction while covering the asses of any insiders that may otherwise have been held accountable for their unethical or illegal actions. The state doesn’t want to really open the big can of worms, because inside is a morass of rot, corruption, and crime the stink of which is on too many big names, and if anyone tried to do the real work of actually airing it all out, the massive political house cleaning would leave very few agencies and offices in tact.
It is quite likely that the same is true when it comes to the story of Covid19 and where it came from. Conspiracy theorists were out of the gate in record time when the pandemic hit, pushing stories about 5G cell towers causing the disease and releasing movies like “Plandemic.” This sort of activity immediately pisses in the punchbowl of the truth, making most “serious” and “respectable” journalists terrified to even go near the topic, despite the fact that understanding the origins of Covid19 is actually really important, as well as shrouded in intrigue.
Take for example, the amazing essay “A Proposed Origin for SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 Pandemic” written by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD for IndependentScienceNews.org. In the essay, the authors explain that back in 2012, six Chinese miners in the Yunnan Province went into a mineshaft full of bats and bat guano, and then contracted a mysterious illness that ended up killing three of them. Apparently, samples from these men, whose illness shares all the same symptoms as Covid19, were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Not only that, but bat fecal samples from the mine itself were also collected by Institute researchers after the miners fell sick.
The best information about the miners and the course of their illness was documented in a master’s thesis written by one of the doctors caring for the men while they were ill. Latham and Wilson had this masters thesis translated into English so they could fully understand what happened to the miners, how they were treated, and which other experts were consulted regarding their care. And lo and behold, according to Latham and Wilson:
“A small number of remote meetings were held with researchers at other universities. One was with Zhong Nanshan at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangdong. Zhong is the Chinese hero of the SARS epidemic, a virologist, and arguably the most famous scientist in China.”
The master’s thesis ultimately came to the conclusion that a horseshoe bat was the likely source of the virus that infected the miners, and the author believed that the virus itself was a SARS-like coronavirus.
And interestingly enough, the virus samples collected in the mine by the lab of Zheng-li Shi at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, were 96% identical with SARS-COV-2. In their essay, Dr.’s Latham and Wilson go on to explain how they believe the virus was able to evolve so rapidly in the lungs of the six miners. But even if they are wrong and the miner’s themselves were not the hosts in which SARS-COV-2 evolved to infect humans, there is still the possibility that the virus did come from that mine, but not via the miners. Rather, it could be that SARS-COV-2 was the result of experiments done within the lab by researchers infecting human cells with the virus found within the bat guano samples.
Either way, what is significant is that fact that the source of the virus doesn’t seem to be of major concern to any of the politicians of the world, who are happy to believe that SARS-COV-2 was a fluke, a bit of genetic bad luck, because hey, “novel viruses are a part of life in a complex global civilization, and from time to time, we will have to deal with them.” While that is true, we shouldn’t be so cavalier about brushing off concerns about where SARS-COV-2 came from, because if indeed it did escape from a virology lab, even if by accident, we should if nothing else, be looking really long and hard at such laboratories and the work that they do as well as their safety protocols.
Back at the outset of the Covid19 Pandemic, any discussion of the wet markets in China and specifically in Wuhan was off limits because it was considered racist, and to be totally frank, I pretty much agreed with that sentiment because most of the public discourse I saw on the issue, was pretty racist. I have driven through Hereford, Texas. I have seen and smelled the near endless feedlots for cattle. And as an ardent lover and consumer of beef I can say, “Yo, that is not the way we should be keeping those animals!” If we want to talk about superbugs being generated by the massive crowding of livestock like pigs and chickens, and the totally unnecessary use of antibiotics that results, then we have to take a good hard look at ourselves in the west as well. But all of that is a distraction. What matters is that the Wuhan wet market could not have been the source of SARS-COV-2 because the virus was not detected in any of the animal samples collected there. Not to mention, several of the original Covid19 patients in Wuhan had no connection to the wet market.
The Wuhan wet market was an easy scape goat that kept people from digging into the possibility that the virus taking the world by storm would likely have never made it into the population at large if a bunch of so-called “experts” hadn’t tried tinkering and manipulating it, believing that they had it entirely under their control. The situation is not unlike the scenario laid out to me by Richard Clarke, about some would-be terrorists who were being surveilled as they travelled to Malaysia in early January 2000, and who the CIA then “lost” as they travelled to Los Angeles immediately afterward, and who CIA counter-terror staff then apparently lost all interest in for the next seventeen months. If Clarke is right, and the CIA was trying to run or flip these al-Qaeda operators (likely with the help of Saudi Intelligence proxies) we would see again a case where a bunch of so-called “experts” think they can contain and control a dangerous element, where they think they are smart enough to manipulate something deadly in the shadows, only to have the whole thing blow up in their faces. And then of course, voices calling for accountability are accused of starting “witch hunts,” and everyone in power who should be facing trials of some sort, end up using the crisis that they caused to seize more power and to dust off their pre-written dream agendas which they present to the public as necessary to return us all to safety and normality.
Just like the 9-11 Commission was supposed to put the final stamp on “what happened that day,” the WHO sent a team to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and they spoke with Zheng-Li Shi, the famous coronavirus studying scientist whose lab collected bat feces samples from the mineshaft in Yunnan after the miners turned up sick, and who in June of 2020 expressed concern that SARS-COV-2 may have escaped from her lab. A week after their first visit to the lab, the WHO team concluded that it was unlikely that the WIV was the source of SARS-COV-2, and the team lead Dr. Peter Embarek said
“…ongoing work into the origin of the virus points to bats as a possible natural reservoir for Covid-19, but since Wuhan is not a natural environment for the animal it remains unclear how the virus was introduced into the city.”
Until his team releases their full report, we won’t know what they did and did not take into account when making their final assessment, but apparently, nobody told this WHO fact finding envoy about the sick Miners or the collection of bat guano from the Mojiang mine. Sidenote: It’s also doesn’t instill one with much faith when Dr. Embarek confuses Covid19 (an illness) with SARS-COV-2 (a virus).
Amidst all of this melee, major journalistic institutions usually cower from the real questions and instead become stenographers who merely print the day to day activities and proclamations of the politicians in charge. The information gap this creates kicks open the barn door for the conspiracy theorists who see the crisis, who see that the crime scene doesn’t make sense, and who see the total absence of hard questions being asked and then just presume this all adds up to mean that the whole situation is one big plot by shadowy insiders who are cackling in the smoky background.
Soon we’ll be told the source of the virus doesn’t matter. “What’s done is done,” they’ll say. “We need to look forward, and pull together to beat the virus.” And most people will march to that drumbeat, while a few remain mired in the muck of internet conspiracy backwaters, and the truth languishes somewhere in between. Just bit of trivia for the well read to bring up at cocktail parties, if people ever again have cocktail parties.